System dynamics modelling for construction management

Starting a construction project requires a detailed understanding of project management. There are plenty of moving parts that go around design and construction projects. As such, you cannot expect a company to trust your business if you cannot provide complete information and a timetable for the construction project. 

However, a construction engineer or project manager will always explain that a proper risk analysis assessment applying dynamic planning ensures that you can create a safe and efficient construction project management plan. Hence, many large scale construction projects take the time to consider using an integrated system when processing their construction plan.

The practice of creating a proper management model is something that every construction operation should include with their training and infrastructure engineering. One particular method of approaching construction projects that can make the entire process fall under a simple critical review and future assessment is none other than system dynamics modelling. 

System dynamics modelling is strategic management involving dynamic planning and control using a hybrid computer simulation formulated for maximum construction safety and efficiency. Learning why system dynamics is a method that the construction industry is starting to adopt for its infrastructure projects will give project managers and other key personnel insight into potential timelines, delays, and revisions that could arise.


The Basics Of System Dynamics Modeling

RPMS- System dynamics modelling for construction management
The Basics Of System Dynamics Modeling

When we think about systems, our minds tend to wander towards concepts like “whole” and “network.” System dynamics modelling is a subset of the systemic approach that uses computer-based models to test intervention strategies and policies to improve system performance. 

The main characteristic of system dynamics models is a set of tools and techniques for understanding the dynamic behaviour of complex systems and exploring the effects of interventions on those behaviours. System dynamics tries to understand how a change in one part of a system will affect different parts. Furthermore, it determines what will happen if interventions to one component affect any particular part or element in the system. 

Another characteristic of the system dynamics model is a mathematical modelling technique that uses stocks and flows to demonstrate how changes in critical variables affect other variables within an overall process. MIT professor Jay Forrester developed the System Dynamics Modelling (SDM) in the late 1950s and wrote about this for the first time in his book Industrial Dynamics published in 1961. 

The model has since been used across all disciplines but has become popular with construction management professionals. Such popularity is due to its ability to analyse the interactions between different elements to produce a system outcome. These system outcomes allow users to analyze at a macro level. 

The system dynamics model is very helpful in understanding the factors that affect one another by illustrating how a system works. These models are composed of several variables, stocks, flows, and feedback loops, and they apply to the model’s area of interest. Moreover, its approach has proven to be extremely useful in solving problems with an understanding of the behaviour of a system over time under various circumstances.


What Is it Used For?

The system dynamics model benefits a construction company by taking into consideration its planning and control methodology. It ensures comprehensive risk management alongside its critical evaluation that can always guarantee cost-benefit analysis for clients. The dynamic system approach will find key risks within a construction project and has additional benefits that can encourage improvements in all sectors and aspects of the construction management process. 

The application of the SDM gives valuable insight into other key areas of a construction project, such as contract formulation and decision-making. The system dynamics approach enables project personnel to research what happens when we change one part of the system (e.g., changing demand or supply). 

Organizations such as the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), International Monetary Fund (IMF), and others use the system dynamics model to explore issues in strategy formulation. These include economic growth, technological innovation, national security policy analysis, environmental management, and sustainable development. 

SDM uses parameterized best practices that include Jorgenson’s production function models and feedback loop models. Both methods describe how key variables are interrelated. On the other hand, policy models show how policies affect the behaviour of key variables. SDM also accounts for many other phenomena to generate insights into the operation of complex systems. 

Another use of SDM is for what-if analysis. Systems such as these are a fantastic way to explore possibilities with computer simulations so that project leads can make changes in assumptions or policies easily without having to build large, complicated spreadsheets or run expensive Monte Carlo simulations. The system dynamic approach also provides you with an insight into how to change some elements within the system, which will affect the whole system itself. All these processes would help in identifying behaviour patterns that affect the approach using system dynamics. 

Why Is It Important?

The application of SDM in construction management is a powerful problem-solving tool, one that every construction company should have access to. It can be of great value in identifying potential risks and opportunities within a project system. Clients have used such an approach to identify new business options that they may not have known existed beforehand or help them understand existing businesses more thoroughly and improve their stakeholder management. 

Project management professionals in the construction industry use the system dynamics model in systems such as System Dynamics MODFLOW Flex, which provides an easy interface specially designed for water resources and environmental engineering applications. Nowadays, SDM tools make it easier for construction managers and project engineers to learn how to leverage their knowledge of system dynamics modelling to address project challenges.

In terms of what-if analysis, SDM proves to have great insight by allowing users to ‘plug in’ different values or assumptions about the system and see how it affects the behaviour of the whole project over time. With that project, leads can improve quality and change management periodically and organically during the entire construction process. 

To conclude this section, SDM has two significant functions for those involved in the construction industry. First, it allows businesses and organizations to make more informed decisions regarding their strategies, scenarios, and opportunities for projects. Second, the system dynamics model reduces risks, controls costs, and keeps projects on track. 

Overall, it allows for a more efficient and accurate flow of project requirements while also providing a management and monitoring tool. The system dynamic model helps you understand what elements affect your business and how those effects will translate during implementation. Project managers can then clearly understand the current situation, identifying major drivers that impact the project or system. With that, project leads can take quick and decisive action to prevent unwanted delays or mishaps. 


Construction Project Management: Planning, Implementing, and Monitoring

RPMS- System dynamics modelling for construction management
Construction Project Management: Planning, Implementing, and Monitoring

The International Journal of Project Management understands that plenty of construction research is needed to ensure that management and economics work smoothly without issues. As such, each construction engineering and change management model method would undergo functional examination before you can start implementing and monitoring this complex system. 

But before you can begin integrating system dynamics model designs into your next construction project, you need first to understand the critical elements of what makes construction project management crucial. 

The first thing you need to know about construction management is that this step increases risk management and improves the management process. Since accident analysis can showcase the risks your workers would take, you can adjust the labour productivity accordingly. 

However, the safety performance of construction management is only one part of the many benefits of managing construction projects. Construction operations management can also include schedule, cost, and quality performance. Systematic construction management helps you organize the various aspects of the construction process without sacrificing safety or other factors that may affect your building’s value. System Dynamics Modelling is only one aspect of making it easier to understand how these projects work.


Component Project Management Framework

As early as now, you must know that system dynamics models will help you outline the relationship between components like demand and supply. But first, what are some elements of a project management framework? First on the list is having a well-structured team so your workers can integrate their skills to develop an idea of how they would design each part of your project.

Many construction companies would usually hire experts from various fields to help them develop an efficient workflow. In contrast, others might benefit from hiring one in-house for easier management. 

System Dynamics Modelling can also make it easier to visualize the data and information you have gathered about construction projects. The more concrete the plans, needs, and safety regulations are for a construction project, the easier it is to create a steady flow for time management and resource management. 

Critical Phases in Construction Management Process

RPMS- System dynamics modelling for construction management
Critical Phases in Construction Management Process

Aside from a well-structured team, a project management framework refers to different stages of the construction process. System Dynamic Modelling will not only help you identify potential problem areas in your next construction project, but you would also know how to plan, so these problems won’t escalate into more significant issues. The five critical phases of a successful construction project are as follows: 

  • Initiation Planning
  • Execution Monitoring and 
  • Controlling Closing System Dynamics Modelling 

The last plays an important role here because this tool can show what changes are needed to avoid bottlenecking your progress construction project. 

System Dynamics Modelling also includes a macroscopic perspective, which means that you can use this tool to find the best possible solution for the problems you have encountered without compromising safety, time management, or any other factors involved in making an efficient workflow.

Construction Management Process: Planning Phase

Knowing how much the project would cost and determining if it is within your estimated budget is a significant aspect of proper planning. System dynamics modelling can help you explore alternative resource optimization, time optimization, and risk minimization for a project. 

This modelling system also helps you evaluate the effects of such alternatives and identify which ones are most effective so you know what parts of your project need improvement based on results from System Dynamic Modelling. 

System dynamics modelling is not just for construction management but in other fields as well. This dynamics model can help you determine which areas require more attention when building a skyscraper, bridge, or even when designing the interior of an office building. System Dynamics modellers can also find optimal solutions to problems that may arise during the building process, which means less time wasted on worrying about these issues and more time spent on perfecting your project. 

System Dynamic Modelling has been endorsed by several universities worldwide because it helps students learn how different systems function while providing quick results that don’t sacrifice quality. System Dynamic Modelling uses real-world data gathered from successful projects, thus allowing contractors and project managers to get a better idea of what System Dynamics Modelling can do to improve the workflow of the construction zone.

Construction Management Process: Implementation Phase

Construction management processes can benefit a company no matter what size it is. System Dynamic Modelling allows users to run several simulations for a project since the modelling software can cope with multiple scenarios. This system also allows you to find the best possible solution quickly, saving both time and resources.

System Dynamics modellers can also find optimal solutions to problems that may arise during the building process, which means less time wasted on worrying about these issues and more time spent on perfecting your project. This process makes both the engineering and management sectors of various construction projects easier to handle. You can expect a massive boost in the construction industry with the proper usage of this modelling system. 

Also, Dynamic Modelling System has been endorsed by several universities worldwide because it helps students learn how different systems function while providing quick results that don’t sacrifice quality. System Dynamic Modelling uses real-world data gathered from successful projects, thus allowing contractors and project managers to get a better idea of what this system can do to improve the workflow of the construction zone. 

Integrating construction operation with the system dynamics approach contributes to better waste management and faster dynamic risk analysis for better project performance. You can also expect to spot sudden changes or shifts in the schedule before it can cause a significant effect on the business dynamics of the construction industry.

Construction Management Process: Monitoring Phase

Once you’ve finished your construction project and it’s time to hand it over to your client, System Dynamic Modelling can help you monitor the process. Those who use the system dynamics model can be helpful as they give you important updates on crucial information that may affect the project’s workflow. These include safety concerns or sudden changes in weather patterns. They help mitigate risks and plan for contingencies if such happenings do occur instead of panicking about them once they occur. 

This model is also an excellent way to ensure that all project requirements are met after every deadline and keep everyone up-to-date with any changes made during construction projects. Knowing how much the project would cost and determine if it is within your estimated budget is a significant benefit that System Dynamics Modelling offers. 

This system model also helps you determine the optimum project completion time by collecting data about your different construction projects. System Dynamics Modelling offers solutions to any issues encountered while constructing a building, so it is easy for project managers and contractors to anticipate anything that could happen. Understanding how System Dynamics can help with various construction projects is always the best step in fully realizing the potential of hiring someone with this approach.

You can even monitor your project with ease even after it’s completed using System Dynamic Modellers. Since this operational research works in more fields outside construction, it can also give you access to information about how much profit or loss your company made compared at any given time during the construction process, which allows for strategic planning if labour costs increase or decrease during the project. There is also a space for open allowance to determine possible savings and help in your budgeting and forecasting processes. 

System Dynamic Modelling creates a win-win situation for both parties, especially in an industry that requires swift decision-making at any given time. Because this form of management research can also optimise resources for better productivity and cost-effectiveness, System Dynamic modelling is applicable in various construction projects such as building houses, airports, bridges, and even entire cities.


Application of System Dynamics Modeling in The Construction Industry

RPMS- System dynamics modelling for construction management
Application of System Dynamics Modeling in The Construction Industry

The construction industry is a highly complex and dynamic environment. Projects in the construction industry comprise many different resources, tasks, and risks that can lead to project success or failure. System Dynamics modelling is an excellent tool for process improvement and decision support in this challenging environment. You can consider this system as your primary guide for proper engineering management.

System dynamics modelling also allows the user to view a system from a top-down perspective, creating a model of how variables within the system affect one another using mathematical equations. The formula that this system uses comes from a quantitative risk allocation model that explores the complex world of accident analysis with ease. You can expect a critical review assessment of the entire project within a straightforward structure. 

Designing any construction project would require more than knowledge management skills. You would also need to explore complicated causal relationships with the employer and the project manager to ensure that the design meets the expectations. There is no reason to run a hybrid system dynamics model if the design elements interfere with the final design output. System Dynamics modelling can help you work your project management around the ordered designs without sacrificing safety or productivity.

Procurement of supplies can become a challenge to some construction companies as supplies are limited if not adequately prepared. Without using system dynamics, you can find that there is no point in keeping your schedules and budgets tight, as there will always be issues down the line. This system dynamic approach prevents any unnecessary purchases that can affect the overall budget set for the construction zone.

Timing is everything when dealing with large scale construction projects. The construction and management process should always undergo a strict schedule to ensure that there would be no delays in the order. The more scheduling issues your system analysis has, the harder it is to retain your employer’s trust. Lack of proper scheduling can also affect your company’s credibility as it shows terrible your construction workers safety attitudes as lazy.

Every construction can and will pose a risk. It does not matter how much safety science you believe in when organizing your work plan. Good usage of systems analysis allows your workers and contractors to walk away each day from their project accident-free. A single incident can drastically cause a production versus protection problem. Construction safety is at the forefront of systems dynamics. Use this causal structure to help a safe and efficient construction method selection. 

Lastly, you can never expect to receive construction projects if no clients process your system dynamics review. Since most corporations would want to ensure that the money they spend would only go to those who have done ample construction management research, you can ensure that system dynamics will help communicate the structure and plans for the project more clearly than ever. 

The benefits System Dynamic Modelling offers in different industries like education and business should not be left unnoticed, especially in construction management. This model has many applications from the design stage up until completion, so this tool is crucial at the planning stages before constructing any building or ideas become a reality. 

You can find that system dynamics is helpful, especially in the research and development stages, so students can brainstorm ideas for their next project with System Dynamic Modelling to help share their vision without compromising quality, safety, or time. System Dynamics models are also an effective way of identifying possible problem areas that may occur in your construction projects early enough before anything happens, which makes it easier for professionals to plan.

To conclude, System Dynamics modelling is a great tool for decision-makers who want to visualize the process of achieving success within their industry and students who aim to create innovative solutions to solving problems faced by different sectors. System Dynamic Modelling offers new ways of looking at processes and simulating data, making this tool an asset during any construction event or project.

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